Carol Smith asked folks to share their Pilot Butte stories if so inspired. Here’s my still ongoing story:
I don’t have a Pilot Butte story but I do consider myself to be working on one.
After moving to Bend in August 2012 we climbed Pilot Butte but then gave it little thought. On January 1st 2014 we had hiked to the summit with an acquaintance for sunrise in 6°F weather and snow on the ground. We attempted another sunrise hike on January 1st 2015 but our timing was a bit late so we stopped part way up and watched the sunrise from an east-facing bench. We tried to do it this year but a temperature inversion had kept a good bit of pollution in so we (reluctantly) passed.
In mid-2014 I had some fully unexpected health issues arise. After almost 9 months and no real answers from doctors as to what the issue was I decided to try eating healthier and to try to get back to exercising.
In the past I was primarily a runner, even if any extremely fair weather one. Along with being an on-and-off one over the years. I knew my frame was not strong enough for running so decided I could use the butte since it is so handy. We live 0.65 mi from the the backside Lafayette Street park entrance. I tried doing the summit once or twice but that almost completely broke me so I switched to the base trail, which I fell in love with.
I got so good at it that last year my times just kept dropping and dropping. Eventually in later summer, I walked the 3.03 mi, from home to the base trail around and back home, in an average of 12:00 miles. This includes a fair bit of up and down. Yes, the down helps lower the uphill times but there’s still a lot of uphill.
Early this year, after some physical therapy for structural issues last fall, I began summiting. Now most of my hikes include both the base trail and the summit. I have even now worked up to twice around the base trail and once to the summit and back for three laps, and once so far I managed a 2×2 with a base, summit, base, summit hike for endurance.
I have ran/walked the base trail a couple times over last fall and this year so far. A couple weeks ago I ran/walked the summit and earlier today I ran/walked the Pilot Butte Challenge course. It was still far tougher than I would like but I also know I have a long, long way to go to be in good shape.
Clearly I have to do other things than hike to get there but Pilot Butte has been a major instrument in getting me there. It is full of an ever-cycling profusion of wildlife, be it plants or animals. The views are incredible and inspiring, be it the gorgeous Cascades to the west, the hills on the way, Newberry Caldera in the south, the austere beauty of eastern Oregon, or the grandeur of Smith Rock and Mount Hood to the north.
I now have 442 miles in the Pilot Butte Century Club since ~March 2014. Some people summit 4-5 times a day, almost every day. I would like to be able to do that too, although it would only be a once in a while thing for me, I think. If I can do that hike then I would probably prefer to get out and do more of the amazing hikes in and around Bend than I have so far.
I will keep hiking Pilot Butte whether it is the base trail or the base and summit. In the winter I will take the road when I have to.
Maybe Pilot Butte isn’t fully responsible for saving my life but it has been a major factor in my renewal. I am so very thankful that it is as close as it is to us so I can walk to it and back. It is a massive inspiration and I love its trails. The butte is there. Has been and will be for a long, long time. Perhaps it’s that love that has saved me.